Misplaced Hope & the 2018 Midterms

If you are overly excited about the results of the midterm elections, your hope and confidence are misplaced. And equally so, if you’re despairing or doomsday-like about the midterm elections, this also is symptomatic of a misplaced hope.

Christian, engage in politics. Exercise your Christian social responsibility. But do not place your hope in the political arena.

Christ is king. He was king before this. He’s still king today. And he won’t stop being king at any time in the future. God’s kingdom purposes are sure and immutable. Our politics neither make him king, nor hinder his kingship.

Christ’s kingdom is everlasting and without end. It is the only kingdom that will ultimately last; and it will eventually eclipse all worldly kingdoms. These midterms are a mere a blip, a speck, on the timeline of God’s eternal purposes.

Engage. Don’t make too little of politics and dismiss it altogether. But don’t make too much of politics either — leading towards either despair or misplaced confidence.

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We’re Doing Sex Wrong: What Weinstein, #MeToo, & This Wake of Sexual Assault Scandals Reveals

Top (from left): Al Franken, Charlie Rose, Louis C.K., Roy Moore. Bottom: John Besh, Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Piven, and Richard Dreyfuss. (AP images)

The past month or so, we’ve seen incident after incident after incident of sexual harassment, assault, and misconduct (Weinstein, Franken, Moore, etc.). We’ve witnessed (or participated in) the #MeToo trend, bringing awareness to and identifying what is apparently a pervasive problem in our society. Yet, as these scandals have unfolded, many have responded with shock and surprise. “I can’t believe that [so and so] did that…”

Christians believe in the doctrine of sin — that humanity is broken and rebellious against God, rejecting his good purposes. And so, on the one hand, Christians are never totally surprised when humanity acts heinously. We have theological categories for this.

On the other hand, there’s a certain level of shock that should always be present — a shock that matches the degree of sin’s audacity. Even as we understand humanity’s disposition to sin and propensity to commit great acts of evil, this reality doesn’t make sin any less appalling. Furthermore, due to God’s (common) restraining grace on humanity, we expect people to treat others with a certain base-level of dignity, even in their sinfulness.

But, at this point in the cultural story, if you’re still surprised when the latest sexual assault scandal emerges, you shouldn’t be.

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NFL Thanksgiving as a Cultural Liturgy of “God & Country,” Nationalist Militarism (James K.A. Smith)

As always, James K.A. Smith is equally perceptive of cultural habits as he is insightful in his analysis of them.

In today’s The NFL’s Thanksgiving games are a spectacular display of America’s ‘God and country’ obsession, published over at the The Washington Post, Smith plays on a common thesis in his writings:

Whereas many see our culture’s habits, traditions, and institutions as mundane, non-religious affairs, James sees much more at stake. They are competing rituals, or “religious” liturgies competing for our worship and shaping our loves.

Christian worship is formative — forming us into a people who love Christ and his kingdom. Our competing cultural “liturgies” (e.g., here: a traditional NFL Thanksgiving; or in other places in Smith’s writing: e.g., the mall as a house of worship for consumerism — quite relevant for tomorrow’s Black Friday) have a deformative power, pulling on our affections and, in the process, misplacing them (idolatry).


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Carl Trueman on Hollywood’s Moral Contradiction Amidst the Weinstein Scandal

There is, of course, an irony in this [i.e., Hollywood’s condemnation of Weinstein]. Hollywood has done as much as any cultural institution to demystify sex and turn it into a recreational activity. That is the consistent message of many of its movies. Yet in the Weinstein debacle, Hollywood’s most powerful players are implicitly acknowledging that they have promoted a lie, because sex is more than a game.

It is not just the lack of consent that makes Hollywood types, and all the rest of us, regard sexual assault as so heinous. We instinctively know that to slap someone’s face without their consent, unpleasant as that may be, is not as traumatic as to rape them. Sexual assault is deeply significant because … sex is deeply significant, and intrinsically so—and no amount of pop-culture trivialization can remove this stubborn fact. …

… [E]ven in our ‘sex as recreation’ era, its significance is still acknowledged in the fact that sex crimes are considered by society to be among the most heinous. If any good has come from the crimes of Weinstein, it is in the fact that the champions of sex as recreation are being forced to contradict the philosophy of their own artworks.

Read the entire piece by Carl Trueman here.